Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/129

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hearing of it, King Robert the Pious hastened to Orleans with Queen Constance, and summoned a council of bishops to determine what should be done to meet the novel and threatening danger. The heretics, on being questioned, made no secret of their faith, and boldly declared themselves ready to die rather than to abandon it. The popular feeling was so bitter against them that Robert stationed his queen at the door of the church in which the assembly was held, to preserve them from being torn to pieces by the mob when they were led forth ; but Constance shared the passions of her subjects, and as they passed her she smote with a rod one who had been her confessor, and put out his eye. They were taken beyond the walls, and again, in the presence of the blazing pyre, were entreated to recant, but they preferred death, and their unshrinking firmness was the wonder of all spectators. Such converts as they had made elsewhere were diligently hunted up and mercilessly despatched. In 1025 there was a further discovery of the heresy at Liege, but the sectaries proved less stubborn, and were pardoned on professing conversion. About the same time we hear of others, in Lombardy, in the Castle of Monforte, near Asti, who were the objects of active persecution by the neighboring nobles and bishops, and who were burned whenever they could be captured. At length, about 1040, Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan, in visiting his province, came to Asti, and, hearing of these heretics, sent for them. They came willingly enough, including their teacher, Gherardo, and the Countess of Monforte who was of their sect ; all boldly professed their faith, and were carried by Eriberto back to Milan, where he hoped to convert them. In place of this, they labored to spread their heresy among those who crowded to see them in prison, until the enraged people, against the will of the archbishop, forcibly dragged them out, and gave them the choice between the cross and the stake. A few of them yielded, but the most part, covering their faces with their hands, boldly leaped into the flames, and sealed their faith with martyrdom. In 1045 we find them in Chalons, when Bishop Roger applied to Bishop Wazo of Liege, asking what he should do with them, and whether the secular arm should be called in to prevent the leaven from corrupting the whole people, to which the good Wazo replied that they should be left to God, "for those whom the world now regards as tares may be garnered by him as wheat when comes the